DeLuca, Jane K., 96, of Ventnor, died on January 28, 2019 in Haverford, Pa. Born on Dec. 14, 1922 at Atlantic City Hospital, she was the daughter of Edna Turner Knauer and Atlantic City lawyer Clarence “Dutch” Knauer, she had two sisters, Mary Louise and Edna, and a brother, Daniel, who died at age 4 in an elevator accident at the Chester Inn in Atlantic City, which the family owned.
Jane graduated from Pleasantville Senior High School in 1940, the year of her father’s death. She followed Mary Louise to Philadelphia to the Protestant Episcopal Hospital School of Nursing in Kensington, and went off on her own to World War II as a U.S. Army nurse.
She got seasick traveling from Seattle to Hawaii and served on Okinawa in the bloodiest battle in the Pacific Theater, rising to the rank of First Lieutenant and earning the Bronze Service Star. She never talked about it.
Returning to Atlantic County, Jane worked as a private duty nurse for James “Sonny” Fraser, the champion amateur golf star and rising political who served as a New Jersey state assemblyman. Fraser suffered from Hodgkin’s disease and Jane would accompany him on trips to the State House in Trenton, along with political aide de camp Camillo “Duke” DeLuca, who romanced her on the way and with meals at Pete Lorenzo’s Cafe.
Fraser died in 1950 and Duke and Jane were married in Ventnor in 1952. Together they were involved in many community organizations, including the Junior Chamber of Commerce and the March of Dimes.
They were regulars at the 500 Club in Atlantic City, owned by Duke’s friend Paul “Skinny” D’Amato, where they saw Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis many times.
Jane had great memories of swinging nights at the 5 but most vividly remembered one when Sinatra appeared depressed when his marriage to Ava Gardner was falling apart.
“It was the low point of his life,” Jane recalled. “He really stank.” Duke and Jane took great pride in taking their sons Nick and Dan to see Sinatra in Atlantic City after the singer returned to town when Resorts International opened in 1978.
Jane worked nursing jobs in the 1960s and 1970s, at the Children’s Seashore House in Atlantic City and as an elementary school nurse at St. James in Ventnor and Blessed Sacrament in Margate. She also took care of her ailing mother Edna, who moved in to the house on Newport Ave.
She retired from nursing in the 1980s to aid her ailing husband with bookkeeping duties as Sgt. at Arms and Constable for Atlantic County District Court. When Duke died in 1990, Jane took over the job, working well into her 80s, serving court notices, collecting bills and evicting delinquent tenants across Atlantic County.
A 2003 Press of Atlantic City story headlined ‘Have Stapler, Will Travel: 80 Year Old Constable’s Job Is To Serve Eviction Notices ‘ quoted a co-worker saying she did ‘the work of five men.‘ “My sons would say I need to slow down,” she said. “But I’ve worked all my life, and to sit at home would drive me nuts.”
After her husband’s death, she said she was “sick and tired of taking care of people.” She began traveling in the 1990s, often with her son Nick, a lobbyist and political consultant living in London. On one trip to Rome while accompanied by Mary Louise, the two sisters subdued a group of young thieves who had pickpocketed Nick, retrieving the cash and beating them about the head with rolled-up newspapers.
Jane loved chocolate, watching the Phillies and “the golf” on TV on Sunday afternoon (particularly if Tiger Woods was playing) and starting off dinner at Steve & Cookie’s in Margate with her friend Betty Lou Sohocky - also known as “The Queen” - with V&O Old Fashioneds. She read the Philadelphia Inquirer, New York Times and the Press, and would sit on the porch at her house in Ventnor reading a mystery and working on the crossword puzzles while waiting for everyone to come home from the beach.
She had practice as a step-grandmother to Nick Carter, son of her son Dan’s partner Annie, and Aaron, son of Nick DeLuca’s wife Nadirah. And just shy of her 89th birthday, to her astonishment and joy, Jane finally became the real thing, with the birth of Nick and Nadirah’s son Camilo DeLuca, who she spent summers with at the shore and visited in London.
She lived the last years of her life in Ardmore with Dan, a writer at the Philadelphia Inquirer who frequently forced her to listen to music she thought sounded “just like a bunch of noise.”
Jane was game for anything, especially if it involved spending time with her boys.
In ailing health, she never complained, even when she had reason to. “It wouldn’t do me any good if I did,” she would say. She was a swell dame, one hell of a broad, and a wonderfully supportive mother. She will be terribly missed.
She’s survived by her sons Nicholas (Nadirah) and Daniel (Anne), her grandson Camilo and step-grandson Aaron.
A visitation will be held from 10-11 a.m. on Saturday February 9th, followed by an 11 a.m. funeral mass at Holy Trinity Parish: St. James Roman Catholic Church, 6415 Atlantic Ave., Ventnor City, N.J. Burial will follow at Holy Cross Cemetery, 5061 Harding Highway, Mays Landing. N.J.
Donations in her name can be sent to Keystone Hospice, 8765 Stenton Ave., Wyndmoor Pa 19038 or the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 26 Broadway, 14th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10004.